It has come to my attention that there are several really important skills that the average 20-something doesn’t acquire while in college. Those who don’t go to college may acquire these skills earlier even, simply due to necessity. But these skills are lacking nonetheless and to be a smart, degreed individual unable to manage life as we know it – is a bit of a tragedy. Those of you older than this demographic may find these skills useful too.
Allow me to unravel the mess here to impart some thoughts onto the unsuspecting and rather needy portion of our population. Here are the top 5 skills lacking and solutions needed to succeed at life:
1. Know how to calculate gratuity (the tip) on a dinner bill.
Seriously, this is something you must learn to either calculate in your head, or take out your smartphone and figure out on the calculator app. Either way, if the tip wasn’t calculated for you on the bottom of the check – you need to know how to do this – especially when out on a date, taking a colleague to lunch, or really anytime. It’s pretty simple to do in your head, and here’s how: Take the pre-tax amount (you don’t tip on the tax), move the decimal point one space to the left (so if the bill is $49.75, that gives you $4.97) and round to the easiest number ($5.00 for this example). Now take half of that number ($2.50) and add it to the first one ($5.00+$2.50=$7.50) and you have 15%. By doubling the number ($5.00×2=$10.00) and you have 20% for a tip. And you can pick a number between the two for something like 17-18%. It is considered rude to tip less than 15% in case you were wondering. My easy method is to double the sales tax number – assuming you are in a state that charges 8%-9% sales tax as then your tip amount comes to 16-18% and it’s easy to calculate – you can always round up to make it an even number and get closer to 20%. There now you have 3 ways to calculate tipping!
2. Understand finances – short and long term.
You will make money, so understand money. To begin with – it is smart to start saving a portion of your income from the time you begin your career versus waiting for years. The earlier you start to save, the better off you are. My rule of thumb is to learn to live comfortably on your lowest income month. If you are self-employed this is particularly important. Whatever your lowest income month has been – that is your baseline for living expenses: The rest you save. It is recommended to save 9-12 months of your living expenses in a savings account for potentially bad times. Once this amount is put away, invest your future income savings amounts so you can have your money making more money. Learn what all this means to you when you are young and have time to squirrel away properly.
3. Abide by Email etiquette.
You should know by the time you graduate how to address a superior assuming you emailed your professors at some point. The same rule applies at the company you work for and with customers you may have. Always read your email out-loud to yourself to be sure it sounds like you have a brain in your head. Better yet, write it in a word document before even putting it in an email so you don’t accidentally send it half-baked.
4. Know The Image You Present.
This speaks louder than words. If you want to garner respect then dress the part. If you look like you just rolled out of bed or something the cat dragged in then be prepared to be treated differently than if you took time to dress nicely, comb you hair and smile when entering a room. The old saying that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression applies here. This also goes for your spoken behavior. If you are among the millions who use the word “like” at inappropriate times – Stop. Just stop. There are so many other words and you may sound like an idiot using ‘like’ for no reason.
5. Say “Thank you” Often.
Expressing gratitude never goes out of style and is always appreciated. Be ‘that person’ who always says ‘thank you’ when someone does anything for you. Why wouldn’t you???
Life isn’t fair. And the world does not revolve around you and your situation. Be respectful and keep your ego in check. If you are truly an amazing person, you should never have to state that – it will be obvious. Be humble and gracious and you will go far in life.